Man wins his “cell phone in car was actually a hash brown” court case [Updated]

Illustration for article titled Man wins his “cell phone in car was actually a hash brown” court case [Updated]em/em
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Updated April 30, 2019: A year after being pulled over for talking a cellphone he insisted was a McDonald’s hash brown, Jason Stiber has won his day in court. After hiring a lawyer (he initially defended himself), pulling cell phone records, and making a Freedom Of Information Act request to show that the officer who pulled him over was on the 15th hour of a 16-hour shift, Stiber has been found not guilty in his $300 distracted driving case. The judge concluded Friday that “that the state was unable to meet its burden of proof, citing a lack of evidence that shows Stiber was actually on his phone at the time he was pulled over,” The Washington Post confirms.

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Stiber is pleased about the verdict, as he was determined to get the charge off his record, which he said also affected his insurance rates. Granted, the amount of time and money he put into the case exceeded the cost of the fine, but he was committed to proving his point. The Post points out that Stiber “had to sit through two trials, miss four days of work and pay a lawyer to get the outcome he wanted—painstaking steps he says others shouldn’t be forced to take.”

Original story, November 11, 2018: We’re guessing that Westport, Connecticut resident Jason Stiber has a lot of time on his hands, but we really have to give it to him for sticking so strongly to his convictions. In April, Stiber received a $300 ticket for distracted driving when he was pulled over soon after exiting a McDonald’s drive-thru, apparently whilst enjoying a delicious oval-shaped hash brown. While the officer charged Stiber with being on his cell phone, Stiber maintains (strongly) that he was merely enjoying his breakfast. And he has some considerable evidence on his side, according to The Times-Union: “Stiber said he had no reason to put his phone up to his ear because he has Bluetooth, and provided phone records that show he did not make any calls in the hour he received the ticket.”

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Despite the phone records, which he brought to court, Stiber failed to overturn the ticket; he is now contesting that infraction, with another court date set for December 7. He has hired a lawyer for $1,000, the same amount he says his insurance went up with the ticket conviction. He emphatically states, “I’m going to trial for justice”; meanwhile, a police spokesperson released the following statement: “He was pulled over for talking on his cellphone and given an infraction. I’m sure his claim is different.” Honestly, this case is so good it should be on Judge Judy, or perhaps fictionalized for an upcoming riveting episode somewhere in the Law & Order franchise.

Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

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DISCUSSION

This is a pet peeve of mine and might be better suited for Jalopnik but all drivers need to hear this. Do not drive in a distracted manner. When you are driving, you are essentially piloting a guided missile weighing thousands of pounds and during the course of your day it is the most responsible position that the vast majority of us will hold. You can kill and horribly maim people with your car and driving it should be your only concern. Distracted drivers are statistically the same as drunk drivers and we should start treating them as such. Whether your distraction is a cell phone or a disgusting McDonald’s grease bomb, it is a distraction. Eyes on the road, both hands on the wheel. That’s it.

Treat driving as the awesome privilege and responsibility it is. We will all be safer and driving will be much more pleasant than the dangerous free for all so many of us are subjected to during the day.